The Google AdSense team shook things up yesterday when they finally made public new policies regarding the use of images with their ads that were supposedly to fix ‘ad blindness’ and to improve ad optimization. Probloggers Darren Rowse and Abe Olandres quickly blogged about it saying that “you cannot place images near ads in any way that suggests a relationship between the image or the ad – even if you put a line between the image and the ad” and that there’s a “possibility that the plugin Adsense Beautifier could violate Adsense Terms of Service (TOS)” respectively.
In all honesty, I became worried, scared even because 1) I am among the many bloggers out there who uses the AdSense Beautifier plugin and 2) I am also among those who customized the images that the plugin uses. These two factros alone made me a prime candidate for being banned from using AdSense, which would be a real nightmare because I’m still waiting to hit the $100-mark and recieve my very first AdSense check.
So I nearly stayed up all night and worked to change the images the AdSense Beautifier plugin is using for my site. Guided by probloggers Abe and Darren, I first decided to change the images into something that are not closely related to technology, computers, gadgets and health which are the topics I mainly blog about.
I browsed my del.ico.us bookmarks remembering that Max Limpag once bookmarked a site about thousands of icons you could download for free. Taking some time to carefully choose the new images I’m going to use, I went for people or cartoon characters, books, even oriental images. It took me no less than ten minutes of editing the image for the plugin, uploaded it into my site and refreshed my blog pages to see the final result. It was pleasing at first, the images were even cute. Until a thought flashed in my mind (which may sound paranoid), that since I blog about other things aside from tech and health-related topics, what if Google displays ads related to that non-tech and non-health post and as pure coincidence, the new images I’m using were closely related to those ads then someone from Google sees that post, that ad with that now closely related image beside it and say; “Tsk tsk. This guy wouldn’t just listen eh, so no more AdSense for him from now on.”
So I was back to the drawing board…literally. I tried again looking for other images that are so remotely related to the possible topics I’m going to blog about, but that possible scenario I mentioned before kept bugging me. Nearly giving up and resigning myself to deactivating the AdSense Beautifier plugin, an idea – a braingasm suddenly struck me.
I said to myself, ‘Since the whole idea of the plugin was to prevent ad blindness without violating the AdSense TOS and enable the ads to blend in with my blog’s theme; why don’t I make a new image that would do just that, literally even.’ I fired up Macromedia Fireworks and created a set of small black squares similar in appearance to the styling of the links on my sidebar. The end result, you could see right below this post and all the other posts to come.
It’s safe, it’s neutral, it blends perfectly with my blog’s theme, it simply works.